Minority wave in summer tide of Coast Guard swabs

Jennifer McDermott | 7/6/2010, 7:42 p.m.

Most of the new swabs, however, were not focused Monday on the changes going on at the academy; they just wanted to make it through the day.

Senior cadets yelled at the swabs and ordered them around from the moment they stepped off the bus that morning in front of their new home, Chase Hall.

“Let’s go! Let’s go!” Evin Moses, a second-class cadet, yelled. “Wipe that smile off your face!”

Once inside, the 37 members of Foxtrot Company were told to change into blue Coast Guard shorts and a gray academy T-shirt. Moses and the rest of the cadets in charge of the training kicked the closed doors.

“Why are you taking so long?” screamed Nicholas Cosenza, a second-class cadet, his face turning red from yelling so loudly. “I take a lot of pride in Foxtrot and the standard is perfection!”

J. Matthew Hurtt, of Old Lyme, introduced himself.

“My name is 2nd Class Hurtt, like the pain you’re going to feel in the next seven weeks,” he said.

The group learned how to “sound off,” with the first person in line calling out “01” up to the last, “37.” One mistake meant they had to start over. They learned the formal way to greet cadets and officers, and they were expected to remember their leaders’ names immediately.

Swabs were hustled around the academy to fill out paperwork, pick up uniforms, get haircuts and practice marching. Parents wandered around the grounds, hoping to get a glimpse of their children and the new life they will lead.

Hurtt said the day is a “wake-up call” for the swabs.

“They have chosen a path that requires them to be a more developed person at an earlier age, and they have to understand the ramifications of that action,” he said.

By the end of the day, the hours of in-your-face tactics began to take a toll on the newest members of the academy.

“It’s been an interesting experience,” said Marie Navetta, 17, of Montville, one of nine swabs from Connecticut. “I”m a little nervous. I hope I can handle it. I’ve just got to take it day by day.”

“It’s only going to get better,” said Carlos Quintero, 19, of Philadelphia.

Kevin La Mothe, 18, of Victorville, Calif., added, “They put you right in the fire, but we’re all going to succeed together.”

Brandy Lowary, 18, of Danville, Iowa, said it was a “great honor” to be accepted into the academy.

As Monday ended, only one female swab had opted to leave the program, not joining the other 289 new arrivals in taking the oath that is part of the process.

But Breland called his first day “outstanding,” marching onto Washington Parade Field with the rest of the Class of 2014, raising his right hand and swearing that same oath — to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The Day of New London